back to article Planet with British weather found 20 light years away

A group of boffins claims to have spied the "first discovered terrestrial-mass exoplanet in the habitable zone", the BBC reports. The planet in question is orbiting the much-studied star Gliese 581, some 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra. Of the possible worlds circling the red M-class sun, Gliese 581d had already …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Science Win

    +1 to science.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      A definite +1 to science... I'd be interested to know how many people who slag off climate models will be taking interest in this though...

  2. Peter Ford


    That's my home town you're talking about...

    "The atmosphere is, in common with our own Middlesbrough, toxic"

    Surely you're thinking of (nearby, across the Tees) Billingham.

    Middlesbrough's toxic-atmosphere-generating industries went the way of the dodo years ago...

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Oi!

      A fair point. Is the planet-hugging ICI plant still over the water?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Cultural Attache to the Riverside

        Speaking as one of the much maligned Middlesbrough citizens, F**k Off!

        That feels better.

        However your spot on with your later comments on the Medway towns.

        1. Piezor

          now now

          The one thing we have going for us living in the boro is that we can live on this new toxic planet.

          Wonder if they do Parmos there?

          1. John H Woods Silver badge


            for parmos

            1. Danny 14

              its ok

              just blame it on the monkeyhangers. Fecking macams.

  3. Anomalous Cowturd

    Nurse, could I have some wipes please.

    > The atmosphere is, in common with our own Middlesbrough, toxic.


    1. Anonymous Coward

      I was on a conference call when I read the title

      ...and had to reach for the mute button. Well done!


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Reply to post: <snip> when I read the title

        I second that, I nearly choked on my chipolata. That made my day.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry about Bebo!

    If the aliens show up, we can in all honesty tell them that we killed Bebo. Then we can all party like [SPOILER ALERT] the end of Return of the Jedi.

  5. amanfromearth
    Dead Vulture

    toxic atmosphere ... potentially habitable

    By what lifeform exactly?

    1. John Sturdy

      Tardigrades, of course

      That's why they're experimenting with sending tardigrades into space.

    2. Monkey Bob



      Tabloid journalists?


      Come on, use your imagination, the punchlines write themselves...

      1. DJV Silver badge

        @Monkey Bob

        Since when do politicians and tabloid journalists count as "life" (well, maybe, but certainly not life as we know it, Jim)

    3. Volker Hett

      no title here

      by those life forms inhabiting Middelsborough

    4. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Hmmm ...

      The search is on for a doppelgänger "Planet of surly French Waiters". Apparently the Aliens have yet to catch on to all the traditional English invasion defenses which seem to center around lousy food when Weather fails.

  6. Chad H.

    But what we really want to know is...

    Is the top 3rd of this planet trying to convince everyone that its a separate planet?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Would I be able to move there and claim benefits and housing?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      To Late!

      @Would I be able to move there and claim benefits and housing?

      Half of None UK Europe are already on the first starship. Sorry, but all places taken.

      1. DannyAston

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        BNP El Ref?

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Half of none.... still none.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    All Hail!

    I for one welcome our future overlords from Gliese 581d, and look forward to fry up breakfasts and bangers and mash.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    20 light years away?

    So they've got 1991 telly. That means they're coming to the end of McGyver. Sad time for any culture.

    1. ZankerH


      On the other hand, the way they see it the cold war just ended and Linus is this close to releasing his open source OS kernel.

  10. Paul RND*1000

    "cold, rainy and just about capable of supporting life"

    Sounds just like my hometown. All it needs to complete the comparison is no cinema, no nightlife, a body of water so chemically polluted only algae can survive near it, nothing open on a Sunday or after 6pm any other day, so many shoe shops that it's dangling on the edge of the shoe event horizon, and a bunch of young louts doing laps around the one-way system in their chavved-up land speeders.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: "cold, rainy and just about capable of supporting life"

      How are the Medway Towns?

      1. Minophis

        Re Re: "cold, rainy and just about capable of supporting life"

        Speaking as a former resident and regular return visitor to the Medway Towns I would like express my outrage and offence at that comment....

        Unfortunately I can't, the Medway Towns are still truly soul destryingly awful.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I hope the shoe shop bit was deliberate....

      God I'm a geek.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        How could it not be!

        Can I press the button now, Teach.

        Oooooh, that's nice.

  11. johnnymotel
    Thumb Down

    straws & clutching

    come to mind

  12. Pete 43
    Thumb Up


    We could borrow money from them

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Correction needed...

    "Planet with Northern weather found 20 light years away, expected invasion of Southern England by 581g aliens in shell suits imminent"

    There, that's better.

  14. Gert Selkobi


    > Cold, rainy, inhabitants likely to be hostile

    > The atmosphere is, in common with our own Middlesbrough, toxic.

    Lester, I salute you. Supoib!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Not VERY Earth-like, really

    Surface gravity between 16 and 25g, apparently. That's kind of outside the acceptable range, I think.

    1. nyelvmark


      I guess I can stop looking for enough room in the garage to build a spaceship, then.

    2. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Thanks, missed that.

      The Travel Brochures say "A well grounded culture".

    3. LaeMing

      All the more reason

      to stay in bed all day.

    4. TeeCee Gold badge

      Alien Invasion?

      That's heavy man........

    5. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      @Robert Long 1

      It depends on what kind of earth-like life you are thinking of. If you think of bacteria or other single-celled organisms, then gravity is probably not too much of a problem. If you think of higher lifeforms, then gravity will be a big factor.

    6. MrT

      Heavy rain...

      "Why, on Gliese 581d, the rain beats down so hard, it makes your head bleed!"

      "So some sort of hat is probably in order?"


      Watch out for the hailstorms.

  16. frank ly

    It could be worse

    Does it have a ConDem government?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Worse than that, it's Labour, and has now been replaced by a single giant CCTV camera pointed at Earth.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Labour would be a good thing.

        It wouldn't matter whether or not they wanted to invade us, their economy would be so far down the crapper that they wouldn't be able to afford to build the fleet to do it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          They'd borrow the money from a neighbouring star whilst saying "sure we'll pay you back!"

          Also They used the other planet in the system to house the entire population in a single giant prison, having decided that they are just criminals waiting to commit a crime. (tbh that's just all democratically elected types driven by the intergalactic star franchise "Intergal Mail" and "Binary Sun")

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    OMG "Earthlike" planet in <100 light years of Earth.

    Which is pretty impressive as most of the planets found so far all seem to be > 100 LY from Earth, often by quite a bit.

    20LY seems almost "local".

    The 16-25g surface gravity does not sound so appealing. That's roughly the mercury abort re-entry force *all* the time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And what have NASA just fired into space?

      Squid would laugh at 25g - and still sucker your face off into the bargain.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I guess the giants of sci-fi were wrong....

    I mean, how is mankind ever going to migrate to the stars if your only option is moving to the extra-terrestrial version of Newcastle??

  19. Anonymous Coward


    Thats a bit high, however it would be interesting to see what strange life forms evolved in such conditions.

    What I am wondering is if there is an "Exomoon" circling one of the planets in the Gliese system which is more Earth-like, and non tidally locked due to interaction between the "hot Jupiter" and star.

    Expect a signal from there around 21/05/11.

    AC, because this is classified MJ-12 ATS .

  20. Andrew Moore

    Is there...

    ...a black line?

  21. Steven Roper

    The burning question is

    Is there oil?

    Because America and China will reignite the space race funded by the oil barons and we'll have warp drive in 15 years if there is. Hopefully the indigent lifeforms bear more resemblance to Daleks than Na'vi, because the last thing we want is human shitbags pissing all over the universe...

  22. Ray 8

    will Bebo..

    be a going concern when the Invaders from Gliese come to stay

  23. Martin Budden Silver badge

    liquid water on a tidally locked planet?

    I'm no expert, but I can't work out how there could be liquid water on a tidally locked planet?

    - The light side: too hot, any water boils away.

    - The dark side: too cold, any water freezes and falls to the ground and stays there as permafrost/glacier.

    - The twilight band: Yes the temperature may be permanently between 0C and 100C, but I've seen what happens to puddles on our own planet: they dry up, because the water evaporates. Winds will move the evaporated water around until it reaches the dark side, at which point it snows... and then stays there forever.

    So, 100% of the water on a tidally locked planet will be frozen on the dark side. Am I wrong?

    1. Colin Mountford

      Hold on...something wrong here

      For a planet to be tidally locked to something the water must be in liquid form. No?

      If the water became frozen on one side that would create an eccentric mass which is turn would start the plant rotating again.

      It seems unlikely it is tidally locked to the sun as according to the physics for something this far out to be tidally locked to the sun the system must be incredibly old. But actually it seems to be the same age as our solar system.

      Analogy would be the earth or mars should be tidally locked to the sun, but they are not.

      So I don't understand why this thing is tidally locked.

      Of course as the last time I touched theoretical astronomy was 22 years ago (3 month optional A-level Physics course) I might have missed something and Wikipedia might not be the text book I need.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        No liquid need for tidal lock

        Look at our moon! Nicely locked, and no liquid core. Slight deformation is enough.

    2. Nigel 11

      Not quite that simple

      If the planet had rather more water than the Earth, it would be ocean over most of it (maybe with islands, or not). Anyway, ocean circulation might be able to maintain a habitable temperature, and not just in the twilight zone. Sure, some of the surface might be at 100C and some of the other side frozen, but the ocean depths might well be at 4C just as on Earth, because water is denser at 4C than at hotter or colder temperatures.

      That's stil quite Earthlike. It's also possible to imagine a planet with many tens or hundreds of kilometers of water depth. I don't think we know enough to speculate what might or might not be possible in such ocean depths, any more than whether life can exist deep in a gas-giant's atmosphere. For all we know, there may be life within Jupiter, and a hot Jupiter might be an even better place to look.

      Maybe the answer to the Fermi paradox is that all the aliens "know" that there's no point looking for life on low-gravity slightly damp balls of rock?

      1. Stoneshop

        " many tens or hundreds of kilometers of water depth. "

        So we have to consider enlisting a few of the Cousteau family to the group of explorers going there. And the landing craft should be able to double as a bathyscaphe.

        Failing that, they should at least pack a snorkel, swimsuit and flippers.

        Icon, because what they may be landing in could be vaguely beer-like.

  24. Head


    Great news indeed. Now we just need a means of transport to get there...

    Should there be an X-Prize for developing a FTL travel method?

  25. solaries

    Is there life in the Gliese581 system

    I am fingers cross hoping this story is true there have been hopes raised of a habitable planet found in that exo-solar system. If it true it will join the finding of exoplanets since 1995 the planet is like the planet in the science fiction novel Anarchos I read years ago as usual science fiction authors have been there first again.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Do the "British" on Gliese 581d

    Holiday on Ibiza 898e

    <-- sun glasses

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inconsistency here:

    "first discovered terrestrial-mass exoplanet in the habitable zone"


    SInce when does "terrestrial mass" = 16-25G? Terresetrial mass, by definition should be approx 1G - and approx is generally considered less than an order of magnitude...

  28. Geoff Thompson

    25G? Hmm

    25G is a bit of a drawback ;-)

  29. Chris Glen-smith

    these are notthe titles you are lookingfor

    Well a few more years of burning fossil fuels, burning forrests etc and by the time they get here our atmosphere will make the Bebo incensed invaders from 581g feel right at home.

    My I be the first to welcome our CO2 breathing overlords and point out that social networks hold no interest for me.......

    We can only hope that as they get closer the replacement of the 80s TV that attracted them by reality TV will send them home....

  30. Anonymous Coward

    I for one..

    ...welcome our northern type-toxic breathing overlords from Gliese D even if they are gray and 3ft tall!!!

    (Funny thing is that us ufo'nauts have known about the planet for some time!! And Nasa did too)

  31. Anonymous Coward


    Check the paper again - its not 16 -25 g, but g=16-25 m/s. That is, its about 2-3 times our gravity.

    Not a problem for life.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      check again - its 16-25 m/s/s (units, man, units)

      that would be 1.6 to 2.5 times Earths gravity, not 2-3 times.

      Maths, it gets all complicated beyond integers.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        God created integers

        all the rest was man-made

  32. mhenriday

    Well, if the Scots do go for independence,

    perhaps their role in England could be filled by immigrants from Gliese 581d ? The lighter gravity here (approx 1/2 to 1/3) compared with what they would be used to at home would perhaps make them more exuberant and bouncy - better at trainspotting ? - than their earthly counterparts, which would be an additional plus. Don't know what the BNP would say, though....


    1. HFoster


      Never mind the BNP - there are plenty of other crazies to worry about: Xenophobic religious and political groups; their xenophilic counterparts; opportunists who'd probably befriend them long enough to rip them off, screw them over and probably start a fight we couldn't win...

      Aliens are probably better off staying away and switching to tight-band communication. We're far too mental/dangerous to be let out of our box.

  33. The Jay
    Thumb Up

    An Idea!

    We're all a little hooked up on gravity and what life may exist there... Isnt it ironic, it's in the Libra constellation, the scales are clearly not calibrated correctly.

    A suggestion, now here me out on this. SEND IN CHUCK NORRIS!! He'll roundhouse that gravity down to a manageable size.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Cold, wet and windy?

    I name that world Mancunia.....

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    If it's 16-2.5g max that's *much* more liveable.

    And *still* barely 20LY form Earth.

    That just leaves the small matter of accelerating a ship big enough to hold a viable colony to something reasonably close to the speed of light so they can get there before the mission directors retire...

    "This might take a little while longer" as Lisabeth Salander might put it.

  36. Dennis Wilson

    First contact

    I bet the first contact this planet makes will be a program that dumps Yahoo Toolbar on them

  37. Suburban Inmate

    Reminds me

    Pandorum, great SciFi film, criminally overlooked.

    I would also like to mention INK but unless you can find it yourself (doubleedgefilms) you won't understand it. Worth several views to properly "get it".

  38. Ray 8


    I wonder what 25G would do to women's cleavages

  39. Sam Therapy

    Anyhow, the world is going to end on Saturday so who gives a shit?

    @ Ray 8 - they'd be like spaniel's ears, unfortunately.

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